(Photo courtesy iwusports.com)
By WJBC Staff
BLOOMINGTON -The Illinois Wesleyan softball team will play in the NCAA regional at Wisconsin-Whitewater beginning Thursday as the No. 2 seed and faces No. 7-seed Benedictine at 4 p.m. in the opening round.
The 31-9 Titans earned one of 21 at-large berths into the 62-team Division III national tournament as 41 teams received automatic qualifying bids.
Illinois Wesleyan will be making its 12th NCAA tournament appearance and second in a row. IWU teams have posted a 22-22 record (.500 winning percentage) in NCAA competition and won three of five games last year.
Benedictine is 27-13 and in the tournament as a result of winning the Northern Athletics Conference tournament title, beating Aurora. The Eagles have three players hitting over .400 - senior outfielder Amanda Straka (.427), junior shortstop Erin Kotlarz (.417, 19 steals) and freshman catcher Kailee Cable (.407, 14 doubles, 47 RBI). Freshman Melissa Guzior is 14-6 with a 1.74 earned run average and Ashley Parrott is 5-0 with a 0.73 ERA
The host school Wisconsin-Whitewater is the No. 1 seed in the regional with a 31-5 record and will play Finlandia (25-6) in the opening game at 10 a.m.
With a distinctive College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin flavor, other first day regional games at van Steenderen Field are No. 4-seed Carthage (30-10) vs. No. 5 Luther (28-9) at 12 p.m. and No. 3-seed Wisconsin-Eau Claire (26-7) opposes No. 6-seed North Central (32-10) at 2 p.m.
Augustana, the CCIW tournament champions, were sent to the Pella, Iowa, regional where they will meet Fontbonne.
The finals, hosted by the U. of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, will be held May 17-21 at the Carson Park in Eau Claire, Wis.